Monthly Archives: January 2008

Earth’s Atmosphere – What About The Oxygen?

The atmosphere of our planet has changed over geological time spans and I think it is worthwhile to reflect on what exactly that means for us and our future.

Carbon dioxide is released into the air through the process of combustion, burning of hydrocarbon fuels. When burnt, hydrocarbon fuels not only release carbon dioxide, they also release water vapor and consumes oxygen. We have increased the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere from 280 parts per million to 367 parts per million. That’s an increase of 87 parts per million. We’ve decreased the oxygen content of the atmosphere also by 87 parts per million, because it takes one O2 molecule for every CO2 molecule produced through combustion.

Presently, the Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 78.1% nitrogen, 20.9% oxygen, .9% argon, .0367% carbon dioxide, and the balance is mostly water vapor. There are a number of trace elements, primarily other noble gases. Oxygen levels in the past have varied, but what I am learning is that there is no direct way known to measure ancient oxygen levels and depending on the method used estimates varied wildly. For example, on estimate had the oxygen levels as high as 35% 140 million years ago. The estimate was based upon insect size and other factors. Now another source estimates lower.

Primary factors that affected oxygen levels involved plate tectonics and sulfur. Exposing sulfur rich rocks in large amounts can rapidly deplete oxygen from the atmosphere.

Now, we’ve got a world hungry for energy, and burning hydrocarbons seems to be the method of choice for obtaining it. We really need to get away from this but there are many financial interests that would rather we stay the course. As a solution to CO2 emissions they suggest carbon sequestration, even though know proven technology has proven to be effective in the long term.

Carbon sequestration though also is oxygen sequestration because that CO2 taken and buried, took as much O2 out of the air in it’s formation. Folks, case you hadn’t noticed, human beings are somewhat dependent upon this oxygen atmosphere as is almost every other animal form on this planet, the only exceptions being some deep see worms near deep ocean thermal vents that have evolved the ability the use sulfur as an oxidizer rather than oxygen.

Category: Future

Peak Atmosphere

There is plenty of oil in the ground. The statement, “No super giant oil fields have been discovered since 1968″, is oil company propaganda.

The following list of super giant oil fields (those believed to have 5 billion or more barrels or recoverable oil), discovered since 1968, is by no means exclusive. One super-giant field discovery proves the statement that no super giant fields have been discovered since 1968 false.

Exploration actually began in the South Viet Nam region in the 1970’s. Oil was discovered in the White Tiger oil field sometime between 1981 and 1986 however, the initial discovery did not qualify the field as a super giant. Oil in the granite basement rock, which gave White Tiger super giant status, was not discovered until 1996. To this date there is argument with respect to whether that oil is biotic or abiotic in origin. Many sources refer to this as a giant rather than super giant field, however, the estimated recoverable reserves are 700 million tons, 1 ton = 7.3 barrels, so by that math 5.11 billion barrels which is super giant status.

Recently, a huge coal discovery in Norway amounts to 3.5 times the total amount of coal previously known to exist in the Earth’s crust. A friend from South Africa mentioned that he thought it odd that we get so excited about oil here in the United States in that where he is from, South Africa, most petrol is made from coal, and the United States has huge coal reserves.

First, assuming oil is only biological in origin, this is wrong and there are many reasons to believe this, but for now, I’ll play into the oil industry hype and pretend oil is only of biotic origin. The first photosynthetic bacteria appeared on Earth somewhere between 3.5 billion years and 2.7 billion years ago, and spent the next 2 billion years converting carbon dioxide and water into free oxygen and hydrocarbons and they’ve continued to do so as animal lifeforms and natural processes have converted some of those hydrocarbons back into carbon dioxide and water. So far the biological oil we have tapped has been that which was produced from 360-270 million years ago. Also, most of the oil we have tapped has been biological in as much as we’ve only looked for oil where we would find biological sources, in sedimentary deposits.

What happened to the hydrocarbons produced during the two plus billion years that proceeded that when most of the carbon dioxide was removed from the atmosphere? In terms of sheer bulk that has to be much greater than that produced from 360-270 million years ago based both on the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere and in terms of the time frame cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and other photosynthetic organisms have been reducing carbon dioxide and synthesizing hydrocarbons.

About 250 million years ago, the Permian mass extinction occurred where in something on the order of 92% of the species went extinct. We’re not really sure exactly what happened, but we know there were massive volcanic episodes with the release of huge amounts of magma, evidence for an impact of a Mt. Everest sized asteroid, world-wide fires, very low atmospheric oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels as well as hydrogen sulfide levels. We know that parts of the Earth’s mantle appears to have been spread across the crust. We know that most species went
extinct.

By 140 million years ago, plant life had again returned the atmosphere to one heavy in oxygen, actually around 35% oxygen at that time. So where are the hydrocarbons those critters should have formed?

Here is the thing, carbon is not created by life; it preexisted in the Earth’s crust. Same is true for oxygen, and for hydrogen. We also know that if we take limestone, calcium carbonate, iron oxide, and water, and we heat them to the temperature of the mantle at a depth of approximately 100km, and at the pressures present there, we get a mix of hydrocarbons identical to natural petroleum.

If we look at planetary bodies farther from the sun, we see that hydrocarbons are abundant on them in spite of the lack of the conditions conducive to photosynthetic life.

The bottom line is all the chemical components necessary for hydrocarbons were present during the Earth’s formation, and the heat and pressure present in the Earth’s mantle alone are sufficient to turn them into a mix of hydrocarbons identical to natural petroleum. We know this because we’ve reproduced these conditions in the laboratory and made oil.

Further, even if you want to assume all oil is of biological origin, there was enough biological hydrocarbon production to remove essentially all of the carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere which was at one time primarily carbon dioxide, and we’ve returned a fraction of a percentage of that carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

It’s not running out of oil that is the issue; it’s running out of atmosphere. We are already nearing the point where those with medical problems are beginning to feel the health effects of higher carbon dioxide levels. Healthy adults at sea-level may well survive much higher carbon dioxide levels, but as people age, their lungs ability to get rid of carbon dioxide declines. The ability to get rid of carbon dioxide also declines with altitude. From the standpoint of direct health consequences alone, before we even consider the fatal fart mass extinction, or rising oceans, or global warming; before we consider any of these options, just our own health is being hurt by the burning of so called fossil fuels.

There is no need for this. If we, here in the US, had spent the money we spent during the first year on the Iraq war, we could have fully replaced all the energy Iraq produces with renewable energy, forever. One years Iraq war capital invested in renewable energy production instead of killing and maiming human beings, would have given us the Iraq energy production in clean renewable energy indefinitely. How terribly stupid we’ve been to squander this money.

If we’d spent all the money we’ve spent on Iraq War to date; we could have obtained complete energy independence by now. We went the route we did because of the financial interests of the oil companies and the international banking community that invests and finances them as well as the interests of the military industrial complex.

We could have had energy independence; far less pollution, been admired by the world for solving our energy problems and showing the world how to do the same, enjoyed prosperity that cheap abundant energy would bring; instead we killed and maimed a bunch of people and made ourselves the enemy of most of the civilized world. And still Bush, Cheney, and company try to drum up a war with Iran, and if you look at the above list of super-giant oil field discoveries, the reason for doing so is clear, more profits for the oil companies, banks, and military industrial complex.

I have to wonder what the likes of Rupert Murdock gets from this? Owning a large percentage of the worlds print media; and all they seem to print is pro-war, pro-greed, pro-stupidity. So how does a rich Australian benefit from all of this mayhem? How about Fox News? They seem pretty intent on trying to push a war with Iran as well. Why do these bastards want to kill and maim millions of humans and keep us dependent upon a dirty polluting source of energy when clean abundant alternatives not requiring the mutilation of human beings, are readily available?

What I find most disturbing is that the same group of people who own the republican party today have made a big investment in the democratic party; clearly they wish to portray this whole situation as a republican-democrat thing; but they wouldn’t be supporting the democrats now unless they had their claws just as deeply in them and are planning business as usual.

Ron Paul is one candidate that I don’t think they control; so instead, they’re trying to shut him out of the process entirely, never mind that he has raised the third largest campaign fund without major corporate contributions, he’s not going to play ball so he’s out of the game. I haven’t heard one other candidate commit to getting us out of Iraq, unless I do, Ron Paul’s going to get my write-in vote.

I don’t agree with a lot of things Ron Paul believes in, I do believe that not everything should be privatized. Prisons for example, the privatization of them gives the corporations running them every incentive to keep inmates in as long as possible, to encourage those that are released to recommit and come back, because that’s how they make their money. I’m of the opinion that locking someone up in a cage is reasonable only if they are violent and need to be isolated from the community; other crimes I believe should be handled through restitution, drug treatment, etc. But the majority of society seems to think that civil vengeance is a good thing and turning it over to a corporation a good practice.

I also think our nations highway system, power grid, and a number of other large infrastructure items are best kept public. The behavior of Enron, and the behavior of the oil companies have also lead me to believe that perhaps nations which have nationalized their energy companies didn’t have such a bad idea. I also believe everyone should be entitled to an education, health-care, and at least minimal housing.

So there are things I can’t agree with Ron Paul on, but we need to get out of Iraq, we need to quit pretending Israel is our friend because clearly they will gladly bring this country to ruins so they can continue bulldozing the homes of their neighbors, bombing them, shooting their kids, etc. And I’m not attacking Jews in general here, I am criticizing the government of Israel, and those Israeli’s that support those kind of human abuses. Israel keeps saying, “Never again”, and yet they treat their neighbors the same was Nazi Germany treated them. “Never again” should mean these things should never be done to ANY human being again anywhere ever. The sooner we stop supporting these actions, the sooner they will end.

I wish that Hillary would have the moral courage to say that we are wrong staying in Iraq and she will get us out of there, or Obama would say that, so I could then endorse a candidate I otherwise felt comfortable with but as long as neither of them will commit to that they won’t get my vote.

We really need a leader that will tackle this energy situation head on, not make modest improvements twenty years down the road. We put a man on the moon in seven years; and we had to develop much of the technology to do that from scratch. But we have all the resources and technology we need to conquer our energy issues and we could put Americans back to work and rebuild our manufacturing infrastructure while doing so.

As far as global warming goes, we’re already past the tipping point; we’re in for one hell of a ride now no matter what we do, but solving our energy problems rapidly would at least position us to better adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. If we have energy we can desalinate water if we don’t have enough water; with desalinated water, we can make arid land productive and solve any potential food shortages.

If we stay on the path we’re on we’re going to see a repeat of the Permian extinction. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me.

Category: Future

Philo Sulfate and Fatal Flatulence

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Recently, I received e-mail from someone who had the words “Philo Sulfate” pop into their head and felt the to relate that to me after reading my blog. I puzzled over the meaning of this. I knew what sulfate was but not what philo might refer to. But he found information on philo, and Wikipedia spells it out:

-phil-

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Suffixes with the common part -phil- (-phile, -philia, -philic) are used to specify some kind of attraction or affinity to something, in particular the love or obsession with something. They are antonymic to suffixes -phob-.

Phil- (Philo-) may also be used as a prefix with a similar meaning.

Anaerobic bacteria deep in the ocean love sulfates but in sufficient numbers could lead to our extinction, as well as that of most species on the planet, if we don’t take action to prevent it. These bacteria obtain their energy not by oxidizing hydrocarbons as we do but rather by reducing sulfates into hydrogen sulfide or by oxidizing hydrocarbons into HS2 using sulfur or by digesting certain sulfur containing amino acids.

Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that gives flatulence, sewage, rotten eggs, rotten cabbage, and decomposing or burning rubber it’s characteristic bad odor. The human nose can detect hydrogen sulfide in concentrations at about 30 parts per billion. At this level, exposure up to eight hours is considered safe.

At 3 parts per million, hydrogen sulfide is hazardous and breathing apparatus is required to avoid metabolic damage. At concentrations of ten parts per million, people lose their sense of smell in 3-15 minutes. Eye and throat irritation and damage results if exposure is sustained for more than about ten minutes. People may no longer be aware of danger once they’ve lost their sense of smell.

At 20 parts per million, exposure of more than one minute will result in severe eye and optic never injury. At 30 parts per million, damage to the blood brain barrier results. At 100 parts per million, respiratory paralysis will occur in 15-45 minutes.

In addition to the direct toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen sulfide also destroys the ozone later.

There is speculation that global warming led to the Permian Extinction by the evolution of hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere and levels are believe to have reached 100-200 parts per million.

Cold water absorbs oxygen readily, warmer water does not. Oxygen enters the ocean near the poles where cold water readily absorbs oxygen and then sinks and returns at depth to equatorial regions bringing oxygen with it. Those currents are in part also driven by differences in salinity.

Reduction in the salinity of polar waters caused by global warming melting more ice and feeding more fresh waters into the oceans has slowed the ocean conveyor currents to about half of previous levels while at the same time warmer waters absorb less oxygen.

Added to this problem, we are adding huge quantities of organic materials into the oceans in the form of fertilizer and farm waste run-off and inadequately treated human sewage. These are causing massive algae blooms on or near the surface of the ocean depriving algae deeper from receiving any light and thus from producing oxygen, while at the same time when algae and other marine organisms near the surface die, they sink and then their decomposition uses what little oxygen remains.

The conditions for anaerobic hydrogen-sulfide producing bacteria to flourish and once again fill the atmosphere with toxic hydrogen sulfide are increasingly becoming prevalent. If we wish to avoid death by fatal fart, we must take strong action to reverse global warming and to stop adding nutrients and organic materials.

Another major source of hydrogen sulfide, about ten percent of what is entering the atmosphere presently, is oil refineries. During the process of sulfur removal from crude, some hydrogen sulfide is released. This problem will only become worse as the worlds supply of light sweet crude is used up and refineries are forced to use heavier more sulfur rich (sour) crude.

Volcanoes also contribute both hydrogen sulfide directly into the oceans and atmosphere as well as carbon dioxide and are thought to be the source of global warming during the Permian extinction, and volcanic activity, particularly underwater activity is on the upswing. While we can’t do much to stop volcanoes we can at least reduce both our production of CO2 and organic materials being dumped into the oceans.

If we wish to avoid death by flatulence, we must take steps now to get off of fossil fuels, and clean up our waste water before it gets dumped into the oceans.

Category: Future

John Gibbons Radio Moron

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It’s strange listening to John Gibbons on Fox Radio express his Hillary fear. “She’s got a million ideas and she’s going to start implementing them on day one”, says Gibbons.

Well, I sure hope so because this country seriously needs better policy then, “We need oil let’s go take over another country that has it”. It’s a real shame because we have very ample energy resources in this country and we could be putting people to work implementing them.

His assertion that government is going to be more in our pocket, more in our living room, than the existing government is one I find hard to imagine. The current situation starting with an inside 9/11 job, justifying the Home Land Security Act and other legislation that pretty much tossed our constitution out the window, hard for me to imagine Hillary doing worse.

Ya know, even if I’m wrong and it really was pissed off Arabs that took down the twin towers, in that case, we gave them what we wanted, we gave up our freedom and way of life; we gave up our constitution. So regardless of whether it was an inside job or not; the way it was handled was to give up everything America stood for, so either way I want to see the current set out of office.

Category: Future

Our Economy

The folks who are really in control keep telling us the economy is strong, but now with the tanking of the housing market they are saying, “We might be going into a recession…”

Folks, we’ve been in a recession for the last six years at least. Giving everyone a $500 tax rebate is going to do exactly nothing positive for the country, just like it did exactly nothing positive when George Bush Sr did it. I can tell you what we can and must do to restore our economic well being.

Let’s examine what happens in an economy. X amount of goods and services are produced and ultimately distributed to X amount of people using X amount of money as an exchange medium. One’s personal wealth, lifestyle, is determined by whether or not adequate goods and services are available and how much time and effort has to be expended to create those goods and services, and what negative impacts their production has on one’s environment, both in the larger global sense, and in the personal microcosm sense.

Adding more money into the system devalues that money, it doesn’t increase the amount of goods and services produced or available. If there isn’t enough food to go around, more money injected into the economy won’t magically make more food. If there isn’t enough gasoline, more money injected into the economy won’t magically make more gasoline.

The distribution of goods and services is another matter, right now we’ve got a situation where the top 1% receive about 50% of the wealth produced in this country, the bottom 80% receive less than 10%. The incoming growth in the last three years of the top 1% exceeded the total income of the bottom 80%. In the last three years, only the top 1% had an increase in income, the rest of us all had a decrease in our income. We are and have been in a recession for some time, unless you’re one of the top 1%.

I’d rather make the cake bigger than fight over the pieces, so let’s look at what makes the cake what it is. We have finite material resources and finite human resources with which to produce all of the goods and services we want and need. There are many factors that determine the efficiency with which we can produce goods and services from those material and human resources.

If we take a substantial portion of those human resources and send them to make war against Iraq, they are no longer available here to contribute to the production of goods and services. One of two things must then happen, since there are less goods and services represented by the dollars in our economy, either we all must receive fewer dollars so that we can consume less goods and services, or the value of the dollars we receive will be worth less because they can’t buy as much goods and services as they formerly did. That is to say, we have a reduction in our income or we have inflation. We’ve had both and both issues are seriously understated by our government.

The people that remain in the United States producing goods and services, a portion of their efforts have been diverted to producing supplies for war. None of that labor or material resources produce anything useful to society. So that’s another reduction in human and material resources available to produce useful and needed goods and services. Yet, we have to supply these people, and the people that went to Iraq, goods and services that those of us remaining and not involved in producing war materials, with what they need to survive.

That is big drain number one on our economy and a big drain that needs to be eliminated by ending the war and bringing our people home and getting them out of the business of empire building and into the business of contributing to our economy in ways that are beneficial to society.

Human resource issues can be addressed in part by bringing these people home and getting them into productive roles. They can be addressed further by increased automation of production. However, this requires energy.

Energy drives every aspect of our economy, the production of goods and services, the delivery of goods and services, and creating a livable environment, heating and cooling our homes, pumping fresh water, treating sewage, every aspect of our economic functioning requires energy.

In the 1970s we ran into real energy shortages. We had mile long lines to service stations, which, if they didn’t run out of gasoline before you got to the pump, would allow you to buy five gallons at ridiculously inflated prices, every other day.

President Carter, seeing that this was a bad thing; pushed many energy independence agendas that, had they been fully pursued, would have prevented the dismal situation we are in today; but unfortunately Reagan and The Bushes gutted most of what he put in place. As a result, today we are even more dependent upon foreign oil than we were in the 1970s. However, one misperception many people have is that we are highly reliant upon middle eastern oil. A much larger share comes from our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. It is absolutely accurate to say we are highly dependent upon foreign oil and we should not be.

We have all of the resources necessary to solve our energy needs domestically, we lack only the will to do so. Major oil companies and the banks that finance them would prefer that we do not.

My own personal view is that we should get away from burning fossil fuels entirely for environmental and sustainability reasons. But even restricted to fossil fuels, we have much larger resources in the United States than we are told; and we have the ability to make those resources go much further without suffering a reduction in our standard of living, while in fact improving it.

We are often told that the US holds only 3% of the worlds petroleum resources. This is true if and only if we consider sweet light crude exclusively and ignore several recent large discoveries. It is also a mistake to think in terms of only oil. Gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum distillates can also be made from coal and natural gas, both of which are fairly abundant although the recent migration of electric power generation to natural gas is outstripping the ability of suppliers to mine and transport it.

So in short; we can address both the human and material resource issues we face. Let me elaborate on what I think we should be doing now. First, we should bring our military home. Our large military isn’t really needed in todays world, we are the most aggressive nation on the planet, civilization has taken hold in most of the world and it’s time to move on to a better brighter future. Get our people back here where they can start contributing to our economy in productive and socially beneficial ways.

On the human side of things; we need to put a greater emphasis on education and re-education. Our rapidly evolving and shifting economy requires constant learning to be able to be an effective participant. It is in all of our best interests that each of us acquire the level of knowledge necessary. We need to stop and reverse the dumbing down of America. The 15 second sound byte needs to be eliminated from the news media as does predigested pablum. Remember when we used to have actual investigators? When they used to go out in the field and actually report what was happening there instead of just repeating something a wire service made up? We need that again. We need to eliminate media that keep calling themselves “Fair and Balanced” but are anything but. We need to reward the bottom 99% for their efforts and allow them an equitable share in the wealth they produce.

On the material resources side, the most important right now is energy; it drives everything else. In the 1970s we didn’t have a lot of good alternatives, but today we do. Bush and the oil companies keep pushing alternative technologies such as hydrogen and ethanol that are very limited in their practicality.

Hydrogen is difficult to store and transport. Methanol produced from non-cellulistic biostocks such as corn, requires almost as much energy to produce, ferment, distill, and process as it provides. A larger dependence upon methanol from non-cellulstic sources only serves to compete with food production, driving up the cost of food, depletes soil more rapidly, but produces no real increase in net energy availability nor does it reduce CO2 production because although the corn took the CO2 that will be produced by the burning of methanol out of the air while it was growing, an equivalent amount of CO2 was released in producing it in terms of farm equipment, heat for distillation, etc.

This doesn’t mean however that there is no role for biofuels. There are several routes that are much more efficient. First, instead of fermenting corn or other bio-stocks into methanol, they can be fermented into butynol. Second, instead of using starch or sugar parts of plants, they can be made from cellulostic material such as corn stocks, switch grass, or hemp.

Butynol is a 4-carbon alcohol that has an energy content nearly equal to gasoline, a road octane of 94, lower volatility, and it is not hydroscopic. These characteristics make it possible to transport in pipelines unlike ethanol, and unlike ethanol it can be burnt directly in unmodified gasoline engines and generally provides performance superior to gasoline. Even though it’s energy content is slightly lower, 115,000 BTU per gallon as opposed to 125,000 BTU per gallon for gasoline, it usually gets better fuel mileage because the uniformity of molecular size results in more efficient combustion and the higher octane is also beneficial. Normally engines are run richer than stoichiometric mix to keep combustion temperatures down, but butynol burns at a lower temperature at a stoichiometric ratio making that unnecessary. In a gasoline engine, it tends to reduce carbon monoxide emissions to almost undetectable levels and hydrocarbons are reduced by approximately 97%. Oxides of nitrogen are also reduced owing to lower combustion temperatures.

Even when derived from corn, butanol is a win because it contains approximately 35% more energy per gallon than ethanol yet as much butanol can be obtained per bushel as methanol and in addition, hydrogen is produced in one process that can provide additional energy, so butanol from corn does provide significantly more energy than it took to produce where ethanol does not.

The really big win though comes if we make butanol from cellulistic bio-stocks such as corn stalks, switch grass, or hemp. There are several processes that can do this, involving either multiple fermentations steps with different organisms or the use of artificially produced enzymes. This is much better because you are using waste material, corn stacks, the grass part of other grass food crops, rice, wheat, etc, or in the case of growing hemp or switch grass, you have a crop that provides much more energy per acre with less soil erosion and requiring fewer chemical fertilizers.

Butanol can also be produced from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. Two methods exist, a device exists that is a kind of a reverse fuel cell, using a catalyst along with electricity to convert CO2 and water into butanol. A second method uses a solar furnace to break down carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen, the carbon monoxide is then mixed with steam and reacted to produce butanol or other liquid fuels. A wide range of hydrocarbons can be produced this way.

There are a number of interesting biological agents that can help us with the task of producing the energy we need. A fast growing algae has been produced that produces almost 40% oils by weight and does a much more efficient job of turning sunlight into fuel than do land based plants.

The United States has huge tar sand deposits, and if those are included in our oil reserves, we then have the largest oil reserves in the world not the smallest. Nay sayers say it’s too expensive to extract oil from tar sands, but Canada is extracting, decoking, and cracking tar sands to produce a synthetic sweet light crude and they are able to do so for about $15/barrel. Production is rapidly increasing in Canada and as it does, so have the estimates of reserves.

The downside to the methods the Canadians are using is that it’s an environmental disaster. Whole forests are cleared so that the tar sands can be strip mined, and then a solvent along with tremendous amounts of energy is used to extract the oil from the sand, and then the trailings now laced with solvent are returned.

You have several environmental problems that result, initially the destruction of overlying forests. Then the contribution of CO2 to the air to heat the oil and reduce it’s viscosity to make it amiable to further treatment, and for the decoking and cracking operations. Presently, natural gas is being used to supply the necessary energy but there is talk of building a nuclear reactor for this purpose. Lastly, you have the trailings which now are laced with solvent. The tar sands, the bitumen they contained, was too heavy and viscous to leach into the water table and pollute rivers and streams, not so for the solvent. In the US, they’ve experimented with starting underground fires to heat the bitumen and cause it to flow, em, yum. I really want to live near one of those operations.

But there are some new alternatives; one alternative is steam injection, but that takes large amounts of energy. Another is to use a genetically engineered bacteria that is capable of breaking the heavy hydrocarbons down into methane, in short, converting the bitumen deposits into natural gas. That natural gas can then either be used directly as a fuel or it can be made into liquid fuels using the Fischer-Troppe process.

In three states alone we have enough potential wind power to provide for all of our nations electrical needs. Wind has become the least expensive method of generating electricity. The difficulty being that wind does not blow at all locations at levels sufficient for power production at all times. However, this problem can be eliminated by geological diversity combined with overbuilding. If there were no use for surplus electricity, overbuilding would destroy the economics that make wind power attractive, however, if we can use that surplus electricity to make liquid fuels, and we can through a variety of different methods; then the economics become much more favorable.

If we had spent the money we spent on the first year of the Iraq war instead on wind power generation, we would have displaced the energy equivalent of all the oil Iraq produced before the war, indefinitely. If we had spent the money we spent on the war in Iraq to date; on renewable energy, we could be totally energy independent today.

Politicians that set goals to reduce foreign oil dependence by 20% 40 years down the road are doing nothing, they are just taking money from the oil companies and stalling so the oil companies can continue to rape us and the planet. The same oil companies that have owned the congress for the last eight years are now purchasing democratic congressman so switching from Republican to Democrats is not, in and of itself, going to solve this problem. This is a good time to write your senators and representatives and inform them that $500 isn’t going to buy your vote.

We put a man on the moon in seven years and we can certainly obtain energy dependence in that time frame if we have the will to do so. Furthermore, we can do so in a manner that is sustainable indefinitely and infinitely more environmentally friendly that current energy sources. I will post more on this in the future because these energy options I’m telling you about here, they’re only a drop in the bucket with respect to what is available to us.

Category: Future